American Technological Dominance Continues

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American Technological Dominance Continues

The United States has long been a world leader in technology and innovation.  But concern has grown recently that the U.S. may be losing its position of dominance in the world of science and technology.  Globalization, the rise of innovation in China and India, and the idea that the U.S. may not be spending enough on science and technology all feed this perception.  If the United States fails to dominate the world in innovation, living standards and even national security could be at risk.

But that perception is just that:  perception, not reality.  A report just released by the Rand Corporation's National Defense Research Institute1shows that the U.S. continues to lead in science, technology, and innovation.  A collection of research papers written by prominent experts and scientists titled Perspectives on U.S. Competitiveness in Science and Technology2 was published in 2007.  It, too, confirms continuing U.S. dominance. 

Among the findings in these reports are the following: 

  • First, the United States has continued to grow its science and technology capacity faster than Japan, the EU, or the developing nations. 
  • Second, the world's developing nations, including China and India, do not account for a large portion of the world's innovation or scientific advances. 
  • Third, the U.S. spends 40 percent of total worldwide research and development funds.
  • Fourth, the U.S. accounts for 38 percent of all the newly patented technology in the world.
  • Fifth, the U.S. employs 37 percent of all the researchers working in the industrialized nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. 
  • Sixth, the U.S. produces 35 percent of total world scientific publications, 49 percent of the research citations, and 63 percent of all the "highly-cited" publications.
  • Seventh, it employs 70 percent of the world's Nobel laureates, 66 percent of the world's most-cited scientists, and is home to 30 of the world's top 40 universities and 58 of the top 100.

In addition to these obvious indicators, there are more complex factors to consider in assessing the sustainability of the U.S. lead.  For example, China is obviously spending a great deal on advancing its science and technology.  But it started from a position so far behind the United States that it will take a very long time for that nation to catch up.  On the other hand, while the European Union and Japan started much closer to parity with the United States, their relative scientific and technological progress has been slowly diminishing compared with the U...

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